A YORK MP has highlighted the fears of families over controversial plans to close a heart surgery unit which treats seriously ill youngsters from the city, as a panel considers its future.

The joint committee of primary care trusts announced last year that the Leeds General Infirmary unit would close, meaning families from York and North Yorkshire will have to make longer journeys to Newcastle for their child’s treatment.

Its decision has now been referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for a review following a wave of public protest.

In his letter to the panel, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he believed the move would leave families with “a worse service” and surgical services should be retained in both Leeds and Newcastle for now.

He said a decision should be delayed until next April, by which time he hoped they would both have shown they meet the criteria to stay open.

“I support the principle of fewer units with greater expertise, but wholly disagree with the decision to close the Leeds unit as it serves a much greater population than other units which are to be kept open,” he said.

“Having a children’s heart surgery unit so close means my constituents are able to visit family members receiving treatment in a fantastic unit with exceptional nursing staff. I will do everything in my power to ensure this continues.”